Report for Environmental Conservation on Chris King's "Avoiding Genetic Holocaust" (MS Ret No. EC 166).
I myself enjoy a good stir, and this paper certainly provides one. It is not a very considered paper, however, and is more visionary and evocative. I doubt if readers of EC will understand what is going on with the allusive and neo-mythic character of the article, and with its 'free associative' qualities. Not that the article is badly written; but it is more popular-philosophical and less considered than we would expect for EC. The first sections, which bear directly on our joumal's concerns, are not well documented, so we do not get anything decent from him on the literature about declining biodiversity, or the source of his statistics in the one and only table. The rest of the paper is slippery along with flashes of brilliance. He has a penchant for Robert Graves, for example, whose theories of religion are now disregarded as faulty; [ Incorrect: Graves was not 'faulty' in any of the key issues cited, he was prophetic.] and he finishes up with the Wasson thesis (O'Flaherty and Allegro, I suspect, left hidden behind his text) which has linked mycology and the gods and in ways now being questioned by the best scholars [Again Wasson is impeccabnle as cited. Dionysus is not in question ]. That he deploys many resources to rehabilitate the feminine and engagement with nature or the environmental is admirable, but he takes a more poetic and arbitrary selective approach to these, without considering wider possibilities: no India; no primal traditions; no sense of interaction between the Hebraic and Graeco-Roman in the West (d la Glacken), etc. [Again incorrect. The whole paper is Dionysian].
Then there is the problem of the implications of the position not being thought through in a considered fashion. The vision is very deinstitutionalizing ideo- spiritually, and yet it expects proposals to be acted upon, presumably institutionally, as if at last the perfect rationale has arrived. [What does the reviewer expect with a paradigm-changing statement? Of course it is de-institutionalizing and yes coordinated action will require insitiutional involvement]
That disjuncture has to be wrestled with; as does the adoption of (the partly post-Christian) prophetic mode in defence of an eastern-informed New(er) Age position. And so on. But enjoyable; and if other readers have a different response, because we do need provocative thought, we might devise a way of retrieving it. On balance, however, I think it doesn't work for EC.
I think this is really quite a "fun paper/note,"; however, I think it would not serve EC well at all to publish it. Nevertheless, I feel that the a stimulating ideas that would generate a significant debate if published. I wonder where he might put this?
I don't feel really qualified to offer a detailed scientific criticism of the issues -'rather my views are based on being an associate editor, and whether I would wish to be associated with a journal that published this sort of thing.